An undated photo of Relisha Rudd, age 8 at time of abduction. (Courtesy of the FBI)
An undated photo of Relisha Rudd, age 8 at time of abduction. (Courtesy of the FBI)

A coalition of missing-persons advocates, activists and law enforcement officials will gather Sunday at a convenience store in D.C. to renew interest in a high-profile case and encourage the public to better engage the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in matters involving their missing loved ones. 
This event, touted as “Relisha Rudd Community Outreach Day,” is to be staged at the 7-Eleven on 49th Street and Nannie Helen Burroughs Road in Northeast. 
Partnering organizations include the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and MPD’s Youth and Family Services division. 
Organizers said they plan to distribute an age progression photo of Relisha and information about a $50,000 reward. 
They’ve also expressed a desire to highlight fingerprinting services, DNA database,  scent preservation toolkit and drone technology as viable tools in tracking down missing people in a timely manner. 
March 1 marked seven years since Relisha, 8, was first reported missing after school officials grew suspicious about her prolonged absence. 
Camera footage from 18 days prior placed her at a local motel with Khalil Tatum, a janitor at the then-open D.C. General Shelter where Relisha stayed with her family. Police later found Tatum’s wife dead at a hotel in Prince George’s County, and a deceased Tatum in a shed at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. 
Though Relisha’s case gained momentum within the beltway, it hadn’t grown in national prominence other than a segment on the Steve Wilkos Show on the CW network in 2017. In recent weeks, organizers have collected signatures for a petition asking D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to increase the reward amount for information about Relisha’s disappearance to $75,000. 
Henderson Long, an investigator who organized the event, said that public involvement makes the difference in cases like that involving Relisha Rudd and other missing people. 
“A lot of people in the community don’t want to deal with the police, but we’ve got to break away from the street code,” said Long. 
“It’s a lot easier to call for help. People have to be educated and understand the significance of immediately reporting their missing loved ones. No one is going to check if you got any warrants. Law enforcement wants to help you find your loved one.” 

Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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